Educating Rita by Willy Russell, Minerva Theatre
18 June – 25 July

Educating Rita, Chichester Festival Theatre Educating Rita, Chichester Festival Theatre

Director: Michael Buffong

Lenny Henry makes his Chichester debut in Willy Russell’s classic comedy about the transformative power of education, alongside Lashana Lynch in the title role of outspoken hairdresser Rita.

English lecturer Frank has never met anyone like Rita, until the Open University brings them together, changing both of their lives. Willy Russell’s touching and enduring comedy about the relationship between teacher and student has delighted audiences around the world, and celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

Lenny Henry plays Frank. Since first appearing on television on a 1970s talent show, Henry has forged a versatile and lasting career across stage and screen. In recent years he has focused on major theatrical roles with great success. Credits include award-winning performances in West End productions of Fences and Othello, Rudy’s Rare Records (Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Hackney Empire) and The Comedy of Errors at the National Theatre. Forthcoming projects include BBC 1’s The Syndicate and a feature-length television drama Danny And The Human Zoo. Like the protagonist in Educating Rita, Henry has completed an Open University degree and has spoken of this as a pivotal moment in his life.

Whilst at Chichester, Henry will join a panel of local young people at Youth Get In! to discuss the career choices available today, as they consider higher education or alternative pathways to success.

Lashana Lynch plays Rita. She will also be making her Chichester debut, and her recent credits include Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet at The Shed (National Theatre), BBC 1’s Death in Paradise and BBC 3’s Crims.

Writer Willy Russell’s theatre credits include Shirley Valentine, Blood Brothers (one of the longest running West End musicals), and John Paul George Ringo…and Bert, as well as the critically acclaimed novel, The Wrong Boy.

Educating Rita is directed by Michael Buffong, Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company, whose recent credits include All My Sons and God’s Property, as well as A Raisin in the Sun and Private Lives (both for the Royal Exchange Theatre) and Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre).


Director Michael Buffong will be in conversation with novelist and CFT biographer Kate Mosse at a pre-show talk on Monday 22 June, 6pm. Tickets are free but pre-booking is essential.

Join the Educating Rita technical crew and creative team for insights and discussion into the making of the production at a Schools Theatre Day on Wednesday 1 July, 11am. Tickets £13.50, including matinee performance.

Meet some of the Educating Rita company at a post-show talk hosted by writer Simon Brett on Friday 10 July.

Lenny Henry will join a panel of young people at Youth Get In! on Saturday 11 July, 11am, Minerva Theatre. Tickets £5.

Find out more about working in theatre, museums and art galleries at a Creative Careers Day taking place in partnership with Artswork on Friday 17 July, 10am – 4pm. The event is free, but booking is essential.

Info: Educating Rita is at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester from 18 June – 25 July. Evenings 7.45pm (except for Press Night, Tuesday 23 June at 7pm), matinees 2.45pm. Book tickets | Special Prices for 16 – 25An allocation of tickets for 16 – 25 year olds priced at just £8.50 for all performances of Educating Rita will go on sale on 18 May. These may be booked on 01243 781312, online at or in person.

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